Introducing Little Bird, the Best Way to Find the Key People Online

I’m excited to announce this morning the unveiling of the startup I co-founded, left journalism to do and have spent the last year working with my team to build. It’s called Little Bird.

Little Bird automates the discovery of community-trusted topic influencers and experts on any topic. You can find the best sources of information online in minutes using Little Bird. Once you find them, we’ve got a whole bunch of very cool tools you can use to leverage their collective knowledge.

Yesterday my co-founders Mikalina Kirkpatrick, Tyler Gillies and I closed a $1 million round of funding, with the participation of an All Star team of social media innovators, engineers and practitioners. The round was led by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who been a great lead investor to work with through our private beta period. Our other investors are Howard Lindzon’s Social Leverage, Wieden + Kennedy, Hubspot and founder Dharmesh Shah, leading marketing consultant Jay Baer, Henry Copeland, Jonathan Siegel, Matt Haughey and Blaine Cook. If you’re familiar with the last 10 years of social media history, you’ll probably recognize these as some incredibly experienced and innovative people.

Introducing Little BIrd from Little Bird on Vimeo.

If you spend time online doing research to figure out who the best people to connect with are on Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, Google+ or elsewhere – you’re going to love Little Bird. If you believe, as we do, that connecting with the right sources of information and engaging with them using the right tools can move mountains for your career, business and worldview – then I really hope you’ll dig in to what we’re building.

Sometimes I describe it as a robot librarian, swooping down out of the sky with arms full of power tools to augment human perception and memory.

I’ll write more later, but I’ve got to focus on getting ready to pitch the company at the demo day for the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE). PIE has been a great experience and there are five other companies pitching today. You can check out the live streaming video at 2:00 PM PST today at

You can read more at the following coverage: AdWeek, Techcrunch, The Next Web, All Things D, Venturebeat, Betakit, Digital Trends and GigaOm and Wired! That’s most of the coverage, but my favorite so far has been Lora Kolodny’s write-up on the WSJ. (Yay!)

5 Unique Ways to Win Friends & Influence People Online

I keep reading articles about how to build influence online, because they get a lot of traction on social networks. Most recently, 35 experts weigh-in: How we create influence on Facebook, an article I thought I’d read just to see if there was anything unique about the Facebook angle. There didn’t seem to be.

Most of these articles can be summed up like this: be consistently useful, generous and interesting. That’s good advice!

I think it’s possible to discuss some more tactical methods, though. Here’s what I’ve thought for some time are some good ways to add value and thus strengthen your position, make new things possible, win friends, influence people etc.

Be first – If you’re the first place that someone finds out about something, they’ll likely notice that. Do it again and they’ll start paying attention to almost everything you do in the future. Everybody likes the feeling of learning new things early – the sources of that kind of learning are highly valued.

Be the best at articulating common things – If you ever look at the tech news aggregation site Techmeme, you know for example that there are often developments in the tech news world that everyone writes about – but some people write about them much better than others. That’s a great way to build influence, to create more compelling content than other people about issues of general interest. Maybe the things I’m writing here are really no different than what everyone else is saying – but some of you will like the way I say them, you’ll find them uniquely clear, compelling, inspiring, intelligent, funny, charming, whatever the case may be. Perhaps then you’ll follow me on Twitter so you can read more like this in the future. (Or use aarh-ess-ess)

Aggregate – Compiling high quality content well from other sources, curation, is a skill and a good way to build influence and add value yourself. It’s easier said than done though! Robots can be very good at it – are you smarter and more creative than a robot? You probably know about Brainpickings and BoingBoing, but how about, Dan Cohen and Kate Theimer?

Find a unique perspective – Have you read Monday Note? A good example of a site that creates high quality content from a unique perspective and thus has made itself influential. In order to pull this off, you’ve got to have a genuinely unique perspective on things and it’s got to be interesting to other people.

Be funny – If you’re funny, people will come back for more.

See, it’s not so hard. You just have to be consistently useful, articulate, generous, uniquely interesting, smart, fast and funny! In reality, any single one of these is likely to be enough to take you far.

Finally, if you really want to rock the social web, you should sign up to get more info about the startup we’re going to be unveiling very, very soon.